Clé de Cartier was one of the brand’s most interesting innovations at the SIHH watch fair in January 2015, with a crown that is easy to pull out and operate because of its rectangular shape. While a small circular crown requires robust fingernails to pull it out, with the Clé de Cartier, you just have to rotate it through 90 degrees, at which stage it projects from the profile of the watch and so is very easy to extract and then operate. The movements of the crown are accompanied by clicking sounds as you wind the watch and set the time. A simple but brilliant and user-friendly concept.
In the Clé de Cartier Automatic Skeleton, Cartier uses the same case shape as for the 2015 Clé de Cartier series, and the same crown, but with a skeletonized movement, the first time that the brand has created a skeleton automatic. What’s more, they have designed the movement so that the white gold oscillating weight itself is skeletonized, to the point that (in the photo) you hardly notice it, because the peripheral part is as wide as the edge of the calibre, and it is linked to the central hub by two narrow arms.
The movement itself is mounted on back of a bridge that takes the form of the Roman numerals III, VI, IX and XII, along with eight strips corresponding to the other hours, and so both from front and back you can see the details of the calibre 9612 MC, with its 165 components, two barrels, balance running at 28,800 vph (4 Hertz), and a power reserve of about 48 hours.
The watch has a case in palladium, 41 mm in diameter and 11.45 mm thick; the blue sapphire set into the rectangular crown matches the blued steel hands. Watchglass and caseback are in sapphire, and the watch is mounted on a black alligator strap. This piece was presented in early January as a preview of the Cartier 2016 collection to be presented at SIHH on 18 January 2016.